Duke Hammers Final Nail in Levy County Nuclear Plant Coffin, Proposes Increased Solar

The Levy County Nuclear Plant is officially off the table in a new settlement agreement between Duke Energy and the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). The writing has long been on the wall for the plant; Duke in 2013 announced the termination of the engineering, procurement, and construction agreement for the facility.

According to a Duke press release, by officially canceling the Levy project, residential customers will see a reduction of $2.50 per 1,000 kWh due to the removal of unrecovered costs. “Customers will not pay any further costs related to this project. The company will absorb more than $150 million in costs that would have been recovered through rates,” the release says.

Under the settlement, filed August 29, Duke will remove all of the land for the Levy project from rate base and earning surveillance reports no later than January 1, 2019.

“This settlement allows us to move forward to create a smarter energy future for our customers and communities,” Harry Sideris, Duke Energy state president – Florida, said in the release. “It resolves the future of the Levy Nuclear Project and reinforces our commitment to building cost-effective solar in Florida. It also makes smart investments that will offer customers more information, choices and control of their energy needs while also providing greater reliability.”

The settlement also includes: plans for the company in introduce an additional 700 MW of solar energy over the next four years; investments to modernize the energy grid in an effort to enhance reliability, reduce outages, shorten restoration times, and support the growth of renewable energy and other emerging technologies; the installation of smart meters; and the installation of more than 500 electric vehicle charging stations and up to 50 MW of battery storage.

Additionally, customers will have two new billing options. A new shared solar tariff program will allow customers to take part in solar energy generation, and a “FixedBill” program will allow customers to make a fixed payment each month regardless of their energy usage.

“We applaud Duke Energy Florida for working proactively with stakeholders to embrace smart technologies that are both good for consumers and the environment,” Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said in the release. “Large scale solar, electric vehicles and battery storage demonstrate that Duke is embracing technologies for the 21st century. We welcome Duke’s willingness to work with stakeholders on data collection and any rate design changes impacting customer-owned demand side solar.”

Duke expects the FPSC will have a decision on the proposed settlement by December 2017. If the FPSC approves the settlement, it will take effect in January 2018.

Abby L. Harvey is a POWER reporter.